This evening I fell into a twitter discussion about whether or not meeting authors could make you more excited about their work or possibly even turn you off to it. My initial response was depending on the encounter, for me it can do either. But as I dove into the topic further I realized there was something in there that I felt very passionate about without realizing it until now - the importance of letting praise continue to humble you.
As a writer, I'm constantly seeking praise and approval. I'm always
looking for someone to tell me, hey you write well, or I really enjoyed
your story, or I can't wait to read more. There's moments where I need
some sort of validation but I only want it if it's sincere. I never want someone to blow smoke up my behind. But in the praise I sometimes receive, I find the strength to push
on and tell my stories even when things seem impossible to continue.
Everyone needs a cheerleader right?
So when I looked at why I decided not to continue reading certain
authors after meeting them in person, I was left scratching my head. I
get that author tours are very very stressful. They often cram several
events into one day and you spend each night of your tour in a different city
only to wake up early, hop a flight somewhere new and start all over
again, often leaving home for weeks at a time. As glamorous as author
tours sound in theory, the reality is they are probably more like a
sleepless nightmare. However, I know most authors are excited to get out
there and meet their fans. It's evident when you see them at signings. They are ecstatic, that the people that buy
and read their books take the time to come out and see them on tour.
They understand that without readers, their books are just pages on a
shelf waiting to be read.
Taking all that into account, I've met one or two authors that couldn't
even speak to me let alone crack a smile when I brought their book up to
be signed. (And I'm not a scary person I promise!) The shear thought of
those kinds of reactions baffles my mind. As a writer and aspiring
author, I find I'm so overwhelmed and excited when someone just asks to
read my stuff and I'm over the moon when they compliment it. A simple
thanks never seems like enough in return for the smile they bring to my
face and the happiness and strength that comes with it. So I have a hard
time understanding why an author would have any reaction outside of joy
when meeting their fans (and I'm not talking about rude people that
show up to signings, I'm talking about true fans). Heck I'd be happy to
have one fan of my writing right now.
I know everyone has bad days and
it's possible I hit one of those when I met some of these authors, but a
good meeting always makes me want to support an author more because
everything suddenly becomes a bit more personal. I met them, they are
cool and I want to support their career by buying and enjoying their
books. And if I really love an author I'm compelled to tell others how truly awesome they are. However, if the encounter goes badly, I instantly want to shy away and
wonder why I'm still reading that author that doesn't seem to appreciate
me as a fan. Their books suddenly don't seem as good or as exciting
because the person behind the words was a bit of a disappointment. On a slight side but related note, because the
discussion mentioned above was initiated by an author, I now want to run out and buy her books for the simple fact that she's taking the time to research what
turns fans on or off when it comes to meeting author. I love when authors (or celebrities, athletes, etc.) engage their fans or in this case a crazy person who feels strongly about a subject.
I realize that because I am somewhat new to writing, I have a sense of
nativity and euphoria when people praise my work. I'm always
flabbergasted to hear any kind of positive remarks about my writing. I know the road to
becoming a published author is long and difficult and has many highs and
lows along the way. But on that journey and beyond, I hope that I never
lose that sense of excitement that occurs when someone tells me I
really enjoyed your story. I know every time I hear it, I'm
still unable to form the right words of thanks. And as tough as it is to be a
writer and not have the right words at your fingertips, I wouldn't
trade the joy that comes with it for anything.